Of the more than 1,800 people who were tested at a mass testing event in Loudoun last week, about 9 percent tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend.
Goodfriend said the health department has received the bulk of those tests back, and the 9-percent positive rate “was about what we were expecting.”
“It’s lower than the overall rate in the county, but then this was opened up to all comers and wasn’t just people who were symptomatic, or hospitalized, or otherwise higher risk,” Goodfriend said.
For many people, it was the first chance to get tested for the virus. With testing kits in short supply, most people must already be showing symptoms or in a high-risk group to get tested. Those without insurance or a doctor who can write them an order for a test may not be able to get one.
“I think the event was successful, and we don’t know if these are people that would have gotten tested elsewhere or not,” Goodfriend said. “Probably some of them would not have, and so for some it’s reassuring.”
Others, he said, needed a negative test to get back to work.
“And for those who were positive who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten tested, particularly if they were asymptomatic, they’re able to reduce the risk to others,” Goodfriend said.
But, while the event was helpful to the people getting tested, the testing data has limits for health officials.
The testing only shows a point in time, and was not limited to people in Loudoun County. Other information, such as how many people were showing symptoms when they arrived, was not collected, according to Goodfriend.
There is work ongoing to set up another mass testing event in Loudoun, although no date has yet been set.
Goodfriend said the testing data would not affect his advice on whether to begin a gradual reopening of Loudoun businesses Friday. He was among the regional health directors who advised against moving Loudoun into phase one reopening on May 15. State and local leaders now expect to begin reopening this Friday, May 29.
“When we originally were looking at trying to see where the metrics were, that data didn’t exist, so the state and the county have gotten much further along in being able to see trends in testing and percent positives” Goodfriend said. “Again, when we do a much larger amount of testing, we’re going to see more cases—this is picking up people who otherwise wouldn’t have been found before. But […] the trend is that the percent positive is going down, which is good.”
The mass testing event at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park last week was so popular that cars lined up hours in advance, and organizers had to cut off testing hours early as they ran out of supplies. The number tested is still almost double the 1,000 tests that were announced in advance.
The 1,604 tests recorded for May 22—more than three times the highest number of tests on any other date—likely contributed to a bump in cases, with 226 new cases reported Monday, May 25. But overall, the percentage of tests coming back positive has been in a steady decline since late April.
According to Virginia Department of Health data, the seven-day average of tests coming back positive hit a high of 29.1 percent on April 28, the highest rate since March. Since then the rate has slid to 19.8 percent as of May 21, the latest date for which that average is available.
In Loudoun, there have been 2,047 recorded cases of COVID-19, with 150 people hospitalized. The virus has killed 52 people in Loudoun.